CVS Caremark Corp. will rebrand itself to CVS Health, putting its health care delivery goals front and center, the company said.
CVS also said that it has taken tobacco products off its shelves, a month earlier than originally planned.
Rival Walgreen released a statement that reads in part: "A retail pharmacy ban on tobacco sales would have little to no significant impact on actually reducing the use of tobacco.” But advocacy groups including the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and the American Lung Association lauded the move and called on other pharmacy retailers to do the same.
Health groups and physicians have long criticized drugstores for selling tobacco alongside “health and beauty” products. But this move by CVS is probably more about aligning its product lines with its new health care delivery ambitions. The nation’s second-largest drugstore chain is the first to pull tobacco products, but nearly all have announced extensive plans to provide direct medical services to patients as well as wellness programs — including smoking cessation programs. "This shows ... we're in health care to stay and we're really serious about managing patient care and population health," said Troy Brennan MD, CVS chief medical officer, who also holds a degree in public health.